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Engineering laser beams for novel interaction with materials and enhanced application functionality

Project Description

The project will investigate optical techniques for modulating and manipulating light from solid-state pulsed lasers operating in the nanosecond, picosecond and femtosecond regime, and applying these to explore novel mechanisms of interaction with engineering materials. Parameters already explored in the field have led to a large number of applications in manufacturing and broader engineering being realised, yet laser light has a deeper set of properties that are so far unexploited in these fields, such as advanced polarisation states. At short pulse durations, the timescale of interaction yields minimal heating and conduction, allowing high precision surface ablation or structuring to be achieved (even modifications within optically transparent media) with minimal damage to the surrounding material. A new generation of short pulse solid state laser devices is emerging, having high beam quality (high brightness), high pulse repetition rate and increasingly higher average powers. High beam quality allows the production of features at the micron scale, and the means for flexible fabrication of micro components and rapid surface texturing of larger components for improved functionality. With higher average powers, there is more research potential in improving the process throughput through parallel processing and optical modulation techniques (for example, to achieve multi-spot uniformity and beam shaping). Excellent facilities will be available to carry out of experimental research in this area, including use of a range of pulsed lasers and associated optical equipment, instrumented material processing workstations and characterisation and modelling facilities.

The Laser Engineering Group at Liverpool has an international standing and sustained track record of forefront research in the application of lasers in materials processing as well as wider engineering uses such as laser ignition. 40 PhDs have been graduated since 2001, many going on to take up senior roles in industry or to launch their own academic careers. Though the research is primarily experimental, this is augmented with optics and Finite Element modelling and in software based generation control of digital holograms.
The applicant is required to have achieved a 1st or 2.1 degree in an engineering or related scientific discipline, with genuine interest and ability in laser-based experimentation. Previous experience on optics and FE modelling packages would be desirable, though not essential.

Funding Notes

Students will need to cover their own tuition fees and living expenses, whereas research consumables costs will be covered by the research group.


Zhu G, et al (2018), “Investigation of the thermal and optical performance of a spatial light modulator with high average power picosecond laser exposure for materials processing applications”, Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics 51(9), 095603 DOI:10.1088/1361-6463/aaa948
Ahuir-Torres JI, et al (2017), “Surface texturing of aluminium alloy AA2024-T3 by picosecond laser: Effect on wettability and corrosion properties”, Surface and Coatings Technology 321, 279-291 DOI: 10.1016/j.surfcoat.2017.04.056
Jin Y, et al (2015), “Patterning of Aluminium thin film on polyethylene terephthalate by multi-beam picosecond laser”, Optics and Lasers in Engineering 74, 67-74 DOI: 10.1016/j.optlaseng.2015.04.006
Ouyang J, et al (2015), “Tailored optical vector fields for ultrashort-pulse laser induced complex surface plasmon structuring”, Optics Express 23 (10), 12562-12572 DOI: 10.1364/OE.23.012562

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